I attended 2.5 breakout sessions today at the SBC Pastors' Conference. Here's my take on things.
The Great Debate
- Kudos to Dr. Mohler. He apparently had emergency eye surgery yesterday, but showed up anyway. Nothing like a player who plays hurt.
- In my opinion, Dr. Patterson won the debate hands-down. Dr. Mohler's physical incapacity no doubt affected the large gap in the horserace. But setting aside delivery, Dr. Patterson consistently spoke from the biblical text, but Dr. Mohler spoke more from logic and philosophy. Of course, this is more a reflection of the systems being defended than of the men themselves.
- I applaud the way that both men corrected the abusive misrepresentations of Calvinists and non-Calvinists by their respective opponents. Both gave considerable attention to the common beliefs of both camps before moving on to distinctives of their own systems.
- These men are friends, and it showed. But their friendship did not prevent them from dealing substantively with the issues. In my opinion, the most valuable thing contributed by this exercise was a model for people in our convention of how to disagree with one another.
- Finally, I don't know how anyone could walk away from the event without being proud that both of these men are Southern Baptists.
The Great Dever
Next I went to the breakout session on Church Discipline. Dr. Mark Dever and Mr. Art Something-Or-Other presided. Dever's part was brilliant, sticking to basic principles of church discipline that are plainly biblical and applicable to any Baptist church. I agree with Dr. Dever on many things. I disagree with him on a few. He did not take this as an opportunity to expound upon anything other than the topic at hand. I left with an increased respect for him.
The other guy gave us as much multi-campus and elder-led stuff as he did church discipline stuff. I wasn't impressed. I'm sure he's a great guy. To tell you the truth, I'm wondering how you have congregational church discipline once you've abandoned local-church autonomy. Do the folks at campus one try to discipline folks at campus two with whom they have absolutely zero koinonia?
The Great Disappointment
No, I'm not talking about another breakout session. I had to skip the third breakout session to drive halfway across town and liberate Jim from childcare. That's because childcare ended at 11:45 although the sessions didn't end until 12:30. Everything here is spread out hither-and-yon and running on different schedules. In my opinion, the Pastors' Conference is a shambles. Allow me to inject adequate humility by stipulating that I could never pull the thing together. But the scheduling an locations are just making life really difficult.
Furthermore, although I enjoyed 1.7 of the breakout sessions I attended, I miss what has really been distinctive and great about the Pastors' Conference: great Baptist preaching. Mind you, I don't steal it. I just stink at preaching other people's stuff and I never do it. But it always encourages and inspires me to hear great preaching. This year we have a whole lot less preaching, and what we have frankly ain't that great.
This is strictly point-of-view stuff, but then that's what a blog essentially is, right?